Christian Doctrine of New Creation and Contemporary Science

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Fr Bede is a guest speaker at a conference. Begins with chanting.

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I would like to thank very much to Father Beat Griffith, I know his very busy schedule in his ashram in South India, that he was willing to undertake this journey and come and introduce the element of Christianity, Christian mysticism to our conference. We very much wanted to have not only a dialogue between spirituality and science, but also between showing the contributions, the common denominators of different spiritual traditions. So I'm deeply grateful that he agreed to come. And I would like to ask somebody who knows him well to say a few words about his contribution. That's Father Benny Aguirre. Thank you. Friends, I think it's a great privilege for me to speak about Father Beat Griffith.

[01:07]

I've known him for quite some years, but my first contact with him, you might say, was through his book, The Golden String, which came out about 30 odd years ago. And that was a biography of his life. And I think he has brought it up to date. But he's been in Oxford or Cambridge among the great English literary figures like C.S. Lewis and Tolkien also, I think. And he was a poet in his own right. But this book, The Golden String, is a story of his life, how he came to a kind of a materialistic view of life, to a spiritual one, and to see the grandeur of the mystery of God.

[02:13]

That has led him, that led him to join the Benedictine monastery, and he became a monk. But his quest did not stop there. He came out to India, seeking harmonization between Eastern and Western religions. And his book, recent book, The Way to the Center, has made quite an impact on many people. So his most recent adventure, you might say, in this world of thought is to find out what is the common element between mysticism, physics, and to see the vision of Teilhard de Chardin as the whole universe converging towards God. So I want to stand between you and Father Bede.

[03:17]

Father Bede. It is customary when you begin a religious discourse in India to chant a prayer. And I would like to begin this session by chanting the Gayatri Mantra. It's the most sacred mantra in the Vedas, a mantra which is given to the Brahmin boy when he's given the sacred thread, and he's supposed to repeat it continually during his life. And it's one we chant always day by day in our ashram. I'll just explain the meaning of it.

[04:17]

We begin with Aum. And Aum is a sacred syllable. It's a little like Amen in the Hebrew tradition. It signifies the word of God, the word from which the creation comes. And then we say, Buh, Buh, Bah, Swaha, Earth, Air, and Sky. And they represent three worlds, physical world, psychological world, and the spiritual world. And then we invoke the sun, Savitra. Let us meditate on the glorious splendor of that divine Savitra, that divine light. May he illuminate our meditation. Aum. Aum. Buh, Buh, Bah, Swaha. Tat Savitur Varenyam.

[05:18]

Bhargo Devasya Nirmahi. Diyo Yonah Prachodayat. Aum Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Perhaps I could explain a little why I, as a Benedictine monk, should begin by chanting a Sanskrit mantra. And the explanation is that I belong to a small ashram in South India, near Trichinopoli, which was founded in 1950 by two French fathers, Fr. Monchanin and Fr. Lesaud. And they both had their aim to live a Christian life according to the traditions of Indian sannyasa and the Indian ashram. And they took Indian names. Fr. Monchanin took the name Swami Paramahrubhi Ananda, the bliss of the Supreme Spirit,

[06:22]

and Fr. Lesaud took the name Abhishekta Ananda, the bliss of Christ. And they were both men of genius and left a very great legacy behind them. Fr. Monchanin's life and works were published in French under the title Mystique de l'Inde et Mystère Chrétien, Indian Mysticism and Christian Mystery. And in English, a book came out in America, The Quest of the Absolute. And Fr. Lesaud, who went even deeper into the Hindu tradition, published a book, Sagesse Indue et Mystique Chrétien, Hindu Wisdom and Christian Mysticism. And that was translated into English under the title of Sachit Ananda, being knowledge bliss. So they lived and died and they left this legacy to us. And we in the ashram now are trying to continue their work. And since they began in 1950, before the Vatican Council and the Catholic Church was rather closed to other religions,

[07:28]

they were great pioneers. But since that time, the Church has opened itself to this contact with other religions and there is a new climate altogether. And so we've been able to develop in a way which they couldn't. And we begin all our prayer normally with some Sanskrit chanting, with a Gayatri mantra, also with some Vedic mantras and hymns. And then we read from different scriptures, from the Hindu scriptures, also the Buddhist, the Sikh scriptures and especially from the Bhakti poets, the devotional poets of India. And then we have an Indian liturgy which is now allowed by the Church where we incorporate many of the customs of Indian ritual into our liturgy. So we've been able to develop in that way to a considerable extent. And then we practice yoga and meditation. One of our brothers is an expert in yoga, hatha yoga,

[08:29]

and he's developed now a very good method of meditation. And we base it on the Jesus prayer, prayer which is well known in the Eastern Church, the Hesychast tradition, the prayer of the heart. And it's like a mantra, you know, repeating the words, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. That is the traditional form, but it can be shortened. Brother Amaldas actually has reduced it to two words, Yezu Abba. Yezu is you breathe in, breathe in the whole world in Jesus. Abba, Father, you breathe out the whole world to the Father. And many find that very helpful. So we are trying to develop a way of yoga and meditation. And many people now are coming from all over the world as well as from all parts of India to share in this. And I feel it is a very small but nevertheless a real effort to bring together the Eastern tradition and the Western tradition.

[09:31]

You see, our problem in Christianity is Christianity came out of the Middle East, Palestine, and it has moved westwards, Greece, Rome, Europe, America. It's made settlements in the East, but it's never really assimilated the Eastern tradition. All our theology, our liturgy, our administration, organization is a Western form. And that has now become an obstacle. And only now are we awakening to the Oriental tradition in all its dimensions, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, all that we are considering here. So this is a small attempt to bring together these two traditions in a living way, in prayer, in meditation, in community life, so that the whole thought grows out of the life we live. So that is my way of introduction. Now, the subject I've taken is the new creation in the thought of St. Paul.

[10:33]

And I want to show how that concept can be seen in the light of developments in modern physics and evolutionary theory and in the light of Oriental thought. And I think you'll see that really something very profound can come out of this. St. Paul derived his doctrine of the new creation from the Jewish tradition. And in the Bible, in our Christian Bible, the book of Genesis begins, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and it ends in the apocalypse of St. John, I saw a new heaven and a new earth. So the whole biblical tradition, the whole Christian tradition, stands between these two poles, the first creation and the second creation. And in the Jewish tradition, it was expected that God would intervene,

[11:34]

there would be a new age would begin, God would intervene and bring about a new world. And what intervened with the coming of Christ and the thought of St. Paul was the belief that that new age had begun. The coming of Christ, the new age had begun, God had intervened and a new creation had come into being. And therefore St. Paul can use a very striking phrase, If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. In Greek it says, Aetis en Christo kynetesis. If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. He's entered into a new world of being. The old world, he says, has passed away, a new world has come into being. And that is the Christian mystery as we understand it. And then he expresses this in a very striking way in the letter to the Romans where he says, The creation up till now groans in travail. It's a suggestion, you see,

[12:36]

that this intervention of God is not simply something from above, but the creation itself is groaning in travel, it's undergoing a kind of gestation, it's going to bring something new to birth. And that's very profound when we think of the whole evolutionary understanding. And then he explains what this new creation will be, what is going to be brought forth, and he says, The creation waits with eager longing for the revelation of the sons of God. And the sons of God are the new humanity, the new man. So the whole creation in the mind of St. Paul is groaning in travel, waiting for the birth of this new humanity, this new man created in the likeness of God. So that is the perspective of the new creation in St. Paul. Now, if we look at that in evolutionary terms, we can say that the whole universe, in this view,

[13:38]

is evolving from its present mode of existence and consciousness into a new mode of existence and consciousness. And this will be as far beyond our present mode of consciousness as ours is beyond that of an animal. It's a new stage in the whole evolutionary process. And so now he enlarges this question of human growth, the new man, the new humanity, to embrace the whole of humanity and the whole creation, and says it is the plan of God to bring all things to a head in Christ, everything in heaven and everything on earth. The whole creation, the whole universe, is to come to a head. He uses the word encephalaiosesthai, to bring to a cephalia, head. The whole creation is like a body, an organism coming to a head at that point. So, this means that with man the whole creation is to be raised to this new level of being,

[14:44]

this new level of being and consciousness, and eventually to participate in the divine consciousness, the divine being, to be partakers of the divine nature. So that is the plan of God, the Christian understanding, the plan of creation in St. Paul. Now I want to see how this can be related to discoveries in modern physics and in evolutionary understanding generally. As you know, we inhibited a tradition of science from the 17th century, mainly from Descartes, of a split between the mind and matter. For Descartes, matter was extended substance, matter extended outside ourselves, and the mind was a completely separate substance, immaterial substance.

[15:47]

And so you got this terrible split, this split between mind and matter. And with Newton, this developed into the theory of the universe as he understood it, of separate substances moving in time and in space, in absolute time and in absolute space. But we shouldn't forget, and it is important, I think it's often forgotten, that Newton himself was not only a scientist, but also a philosopher and a theologian. And he had a very interesting conception of the relation of God to the whole of this created universe. But his disciples in the 18th century, the general tendency of science was to eliminate God from this process and leave only mind and matter. And then in the course of time it began to be questioned whether mind was really necessary. The more you went observing matter, the more you seemed to be able to explain it in terms of matter alone. And eventually mind was reduced to what an Oxford philosopher called

[16:51]

the ghost in the machine. The universe is a great machine, and the mind was only a ghost left there from the past. So that has been the evolution of science until the end of the 19th century. And then this great new movement took place. And I want to make it clear that I have no knowledge of science. I just read a certain amount on the subject. I have no practical knowledge whatsoever, and I haven't got a scientific mind. But I read the Tao of Physics by Frithjof Capra some years ago, and that completely changed my view of the universe. And that is what has brought me to this point today. The new understanding, the new paradigm as they call it, by which we can comprehend the universe. And there are two things, as far as I understand it, that come out of that. The first is that instead of these substances moving in space and time, these substances gradually disintegrated.

[17:53]

They thought there was an atom. An atom is something which cannot be split, i.e. Thomas. And so they were always trying to find the ultimate particles moving in space and time. But eventually they began to split the atom. And then, as you know, they found protons, electrons, neutrons, and so on. And then the disturbing discovery that these elements no longer appeared as solid substances, as particles. They could appear as particles, or they could appear as waves. And so gradually it dawned that matter itself is not an extended substance, but is a form of energy. It's vibrations of energy. And that, as far as I understand, is the position we've reached today, that matter is energy structured in a particular way. It's a form of energy. And that, of course, changes our whole conception of matter, of the universe, and as Dr. Capra has shown, relates us to the whole Oriental tradition, the dance of Shiva, and so on. Now the next thing, which is even more important,

[18:55]

is that in this new understanding of physics, this split between mind and matter has been removed. The scientist has discovered that the observer is involved in what he's observing. He's not, as Descartes thought, an isolated being looking objectively on an object outside himself. He's involved in what he's observing. It came out in Einstein's theory of relativity, and now it is fundamental that the instruments you are using are influencing what you observe. And so we're now discovering that what we observe is related to the observer, and you cannot divide mind and matter anymore. Another great scientist, whose book was lent me by my friend Rupert Sheldrake, who'll be coming later, Bernard d'Espagne, wrote a book on the conceptual foundations of quantum mechanics,

[19:58]

in which he made this remarkable statement, coming from a physicist. According to this standpoint, consciousness and physical or empirical reality should be considered as complementary aspects of reality. So consciousness and physical or empirical reality are two complementary aspects of one reality. And that now has changed our whole understanding. We're no longer divided with mind and matter. We ourselves are psychosomatic unities. We haven't got a mind separated and a body separated, but a psychosoma, a body-mind, where each is interacting always on the other. And that enables us also to see that the universe is not an extended matter outside ourselves without consciousness, but is also a psychosomatic unity, the whole creation. So now we're in a totally new understanding of the structure of the universe,

[21:00]

and one which brings us right back to the ancient tradition of wisdom, in India and throughout the world. And what I've been discovering, so many others have been discovering, is that when you go back to this tradition, whether it's Hindu or Buddhist or Taoist or Sufi or the Christian mysticism or the Kabbalah, you're always finding a universal tradition. There was a universal wisdom which we lost at the Renaissance. We were part of it until then. And then the great discoveries in physics, astronomy and so on were so fascinating and so wonderful that the Western mind simply got absorbed into that and lost the other dimension. And only today, after two or three centuries, we're discovering this other dimension. We're beginning to see the interrelation of mind and matter and this whole universe of the past. I'm particularly interested in the Vedic tradition, particularly the Upanishads, and there you have a beautiful example of this division of body, soul and spirit.

[22:10]

And again, in our Christian tradition and in much Western tradition as a whole, we have a psychology of body, soul, and they don't know anything beyond. But the ancient world always knew there are three principles of human existence, physical, psychological and spiritual. And they're all distinct and they're all interrelated and interdependent. And the physical, of course, is the physical organism, which we are part of the whole organism of the universe. The psychological is the psyche, it's part of the psychological organism with all the senses and feelings, imagination, mind, will, all the faculties, psyche. But above the physical and above the psychological is the spirit, which in St. Paul is the pneuma and in Sanskrit is the atman. And that is the great difference between the two psychologies, that for this ancient world, the body and the soul are both conditioned, sustained and derived from a transcendent reality,

[23:14]

the atman, the paramatman or the pneuma, the spirit of God. And this now, as I say, was a universal tradition. And it's extremely interesting to follow it in the Vedic tradition. You see, we imagine a thing like fire or the sun as being something material. When astronauts go to the moon, we think they're just exploring some physical being up there. So with the other planets. And every material thing is for us a material thing. But if you look into the ancient world, any ancient doctrine, any ancient poetry at all, you will find they never separated the physical, the psychological and the spiritual. Take the word Agni. Agni is the god of fire in Hinduism. And Agni, when it was very important, you took the sticks and you rubbed them together. And Agni, the god of fire, sprang up, you see. That was the fire in which you offered the sacrifice.

[24:16]

But at the same time, that fire which offered the sacrifice was a fire in the mind. It illuminated your mind. And Agni is called the all-knowing. It's so interesting. They'll describe this fire breaking out. Then they say he is the all-knowing one and he conveys our gifts to the gods. He's the messenger between heaven and earth. So the fire is both a physical thing and a psychological reality affecting the human psyche. And the fire comes down from heaven. And this is another aspect of the sun. See, I have chanted that Gayatri mantra to Savitra. And Savitra is a name really for the sun. But not in our sense of the sun. It's the sun as the illumination of the world. And it's a physical sun which gives light to the senses. And it's a psychological sun, a sun which illumines the mind. And finally, it is the sun which is the source of all illumination. The marvelous sloka you get in the Upanishads comes several times.

[25:17]

There, in that transcendent world, there is neither sun nor moon nor stars, much less earthly fire. By his light all these are illumined and his light illumines all creation. That all light comes from above, from that source. And that, incidentally, is the meaning of sacrifice, you know. All light, life, everything came from the sun, the fire, and it was buried in the earth. And then you took the sticks or the stones, you rubbed them together, and that divine fire sprang up from the earth. And then you offered everything you had in that fire, so that it would return to heaven. And sacrifice is the law of the universe. Everything comes from above and everything has to return. And that applies even to the food you eat, you know. There's a sloka in the Bhagavad Gita which we chant at the grace every day. It says, aham vaishvanaro bhutva, I become the fire of life. The Lord himself becomes the fire of life dwelling in the body,

[26:21]

and with the inner and the outer breath I consume the four kinds of food. When you take food, and in India, you know, it's a very sacred thing. You put a palm leaf, not a palm leaf, a banana leaf down, you put your rice and your vegetables on it, and then you take some water and sprinkle it round. You make a sacred space. Keep out germs or evil forces altogether. You've created a sacred space. Then you take some water in your hand, and you take a sip of water to purify yourself within. You're going to offer a sacrifice. Then you take the food, and it's consumed in the fire of the stomach, and it's offered to the Lord. Every meal is a sacrifice. It should be. But we've forgotten that. So that is the threefold world, you see, of body, soul, and spirit, which is universal. All ancient wisdom understood the world in those terms. Now, another aspect of that is that in the beginning,

[27:25]

these three worlds were one, the physical, the psychological, and the spiritual, and gradually they become explicated. They were implicated to begin with, and later they become explicated. And I got the understanding of this from a book which I read years ago, about 50 years ago, called Poetic Diction by Owen Barfield, who was a philologist. And in the study of words, he made this discovery. You get some words, like spiritus in Latin, pneuma in Greek, atman in Sanskrit, which can mean wind or air or breath or life or soul or spirit. They've got all those meanings. And the normal view is that you start by being very materialistic. You think only of wind and air, you see. Everything is just material. Then, as humanity develops, you begin to see that wind and air are like breath in the body, and the breath sustains your life.

[28:27]

So you get a more refined understanding. And finally, you begin to see that this breath and life in your body is a source of thought, of knowledge, of wisdom. And so you get the idea of soul and spirit. Now, what Barfield showed, which changes for me my understanding of evolution, is that all these things were present together. They weren't separated out. And what happens is, this is exactly what David Bohm and people were saying about the implicate order. They were implicated together, involved. And creation and evolution is the explication of all these. And this is proved in language, you see. If you take any of those words, take the word Ruach in Hebrew. In the beginning of the Bible it says, the spirit of God, the Ruach, moved over the waters. Now, some modern translations in the anchor Bible, for instance, they say a wind from God moved over the waters. Well, which is it? Is it wind or spirit?

[29:28]

It's both, you see. The spirit is not separated from the wind and the air and the breath and everything else. This is tremendous, the difference it gives when you see all evolution comes from original implication. Everything is implicit and gradually unfolds. So, there we have this idea of the original state of the world, implicated like that, and the original state of man. You see, in paradise, man was in harmony. The body, soul, and spirit were all in harmony. And the paradise is a symbol of that state of total harmony. And sin was the disruption of the harmony. And it's disrupted on three levels. By disobedience to the law of the spirit, he's separated from God, from the spirit. Then that results in human separation, the schism between man and woman, between brother and brother. Cain kills Abel. And then that leads to separation between man and nature. It will bring thorns and thistles for you,

[30:30]

and you shall labor with the toil of your sweat of your brow. So the whole creation is disrupted, and this order of the cosmic order is upset by this breach of the cosmic harmony. What in India is called the rita, R-I-T-E in English, right? The rita, the order of the universe, the Tao in Chinese. Everybody had this idea of a cosmic order, which has been frustrated through sin, through the spiritual sin, and sin on all the different levels, which has broken up the original harmony. Then, now, I said this original words had this threefold meaning. And this comes out in the myth. You see, the original language of mankind was myth. And myth is a symbol. And a symbol is precisely a word in which all these three meanings are present. See, if you take the sun as a symbol,

[31:33]

the sun is a symbol of light, of heat, and so on. But it's also a symbol of illumination of the mind, and so on. And it's also a symbol of the supreme, who illuminates the world and the mind. So, in every true symbol and every true myth, the three worlds are present, you see. The total reality is realized in the myth. Then the rational mind comes and distinguishes these levels. And, of course, we have to use the rational mind. We have to distinguish the levels. But what happens is the rational mind takes over and forgets the original unity. And then we get split up. And that's what happened to Western man today. We've got terrific advances in every level, but we've split the mind. Split the mind from matter and the different aspects of the mind, so that we've got this disintegration. And we've got to recover this original wholeness, which is also of the intuitive mind. You see, the primeval mind is intuitive. And the intuitive mind sees the whole,

[32:34]

but doesn't distinguish the parts. And that is why India is very confusing, you know. I find Hindus will often talk to you. And they go from one level of meaning to another without apparently realizing it at all. They'll be talking about... It's very characteristic. They will be talking about Indira Gandhi or something like that and how things are going. And then they will jump over to Krishna or some legend of mythology. It's exactly on the same level. So it's very confusing. Now, that is the intuitive mind without the rational, you see. But we've got the rational mind without the intuitive. And what we're trying to do today, and as June Singer brought it out beautifully today, is to integrate these two minds, intuitive and the rational, the symbolic language and discursive, rational, scientific language. And both are necessary. If you leave the intuitive mind, symbolic language, you're lost in a world of fantasy in the end, you see.

[33:35]

But if you, of course, as we see, simply develop your rational discursive mind, then you get a world of total abstractions. You've lost touch with reality altogether. So that is our problem. Now, we come now to... You see, once we've said that these three levels of being, body, soul and spirit, physical, psychological and spiritual, are interrelated and interdependent, we have to admit that there is consciousness in some way in the universe from the beginning. Matter is not totally unconscious. Consciousness is latent in matter from the beginning. And in this I'd like to draw on the thought of Sri Aurobindo. For many, many years I studied him with great enthusiasm and it's been a permanent effect on my mind, I think. And I find actually he's the Hindu philosopher who comes nearest to a Christian understanding. I find that's where I can make a unity more effectively. And he has a very profound understanding, you know, of evolution.

[34:39]

Like every Vedantic philosopher, he starts with the reality as sat-chit-ananda, being, consciousness and bliss. See, the total reality is total being, sat, in pure consciousness. It's no separation between being and consciousness, between mind and matter. There's total being and total consciousness. And when you reach that state of total being and total consciousness, you enjoy total bliss, ananda. And that, of course, is not just a theory, it is something which we can experience in our lives. As our minds become more integrated, our consciousness develops, we become aware of that reality in consciousness and we begin to experience something of that bliss. It will be very imperfect, no doubt, in this world, but that is what we're moving towards, the experience of sat-chit-ananda. Now, the interesting thing with Aurobindo, which is new in the Vedantic thought, was he said that the sat-chit-ananda became involved in matter. It withdrew its consciousness from being

[35:41]

so that you had matter without apparent consciousness. But the consciousness is present, the divine sat-chit-ananda is present in all matter, in all life, in everything, but not manifesting, you see. So in matter, the consciousness is present, but it's not yet manifest. And, you know, it's very interesting that Aristotle and the Arabian philosophers all said that the stars were intelligences. It sounds very strange to us, but you know, there may be something very deep in it, that there really is an intelligence in the stars, in the whole cosmos, you see, cosmic intelligence. At any rate, according to Aurobindo, this sat-chit-ananda manifests first in matter, and then as material atoms, molecules, and things develop, until they're ready for it, then sat-chit-ananda manifests in life, and life appears in the universe. Then life begins to develop in very simple organisms,

[36:42]

more complex organisms, in plants, and then in animals. And today, I believe, scientists recognize that there is a kind of consciousness in plants. In fact, there's even a kind of consciousness in stones and metals. They have a resonance, a vibration, and they correspond with something in our own psyche. This is no doubt about it. You get stones, you know, pillars in temples sometimes, which have a marvelous sound, rhythm, and we're all being influenced by these vibrations of sound from stone and from metals. And that is a kind of implicit consciousness, you see, a psychological aspect. And the same applies to color, which we know now, that colors have a different psychological influence on you. So you cannot separate, ever, the material aspect from the psychological. They're always interwoven. And then, with the animal, of course, you get senses, feelings, kind of memory, rudimentary intelligence, and so on. And finally, you develop to mental consciousness.

[37:42]

Now, this is, of course, traditional evolution. But now, Aurobindo introduced what I think is a very profound understanding, that we are now in the state of evolution from mental consciousness to supermental consciousness. And that is our business in life, to be evolving from this present mental consciousness, which is the rational, discursive, analytical, scientific, philosophical, theological consciousness, which we normally exercise. But we all of us have within us the divine Satita Ananda, who is striving to manifest himself, to awaken us to a higher level of consciousness, to go beyond the mental consciousness. So that is the task set us for the day. And that, I feel, is really what we're trying to do in this conference here. We're trying to see how evolution has progressed now to a person point, and we are all recognizing that we are in a process

[38:44]

of evolution to a higher consciousness. And this has come about because the Western mind is beginning to discover all the depths of psychology and of spiritual wisdom to be found in the East. And that has been, of course, my own experience, this discovery of this immense depth of wisdom which is lying there waiting for us. And we are experiencing, therefore, what Jyotindra was talking about this morning, this integration of the male and the female, because the rational, scientific, analytical consciousness is the masculine aspect, and the intuitive, receptive, simulative aspect is the feminine. And so we're trying now to make this marriage of East and West. And perhaps I might say that I have a book which is advertised next month to be called The Marriage of East and West, where I've tried to bring out more in depth first for the Hindu tradition and then the Christian tradition how these two aspects of the universe and of human life can be related.

[39:45]

So we're at this stage now of recognizing this movement of evolution towards a higher state of consciousness. Now there are two aspects in Aurobindo's thought which are very unusual in Hinduism. One is the descent of the super-mind. Normally we think of the mind ascending towards God, and that is a valid way of thinking, of course. But in Aurobindo's view, there is the ascent of matter through life to mind, towards super-mind, towards supreme bliss, but there's also a descent of the super-mind. And actually he believed, you know, that the super-mind would descend on Aurobindo Ashram and a new age of evolution would begin. That was really the purpose of the Ashram. And I think it was, you know, these things are working in the world. And the other aspect which is extremely interesting

[40:48]

and is not typical of Hinduism is that he believed the super-mind would descend and transform not only the soul but also the body, the physical matter of the body. And actually Aurobindo and the mother, who you know worked with him all his life and only died a few years ago, both of them were working to transform their bodies. They believed that this higher consciousness could transform not even the mind. Aurobindo said to transform the mind is not a problem, how to transform the body, the physical organism. And I'm told he died, of course, much to their grief, and the mother lived to be 95, you know. And I was told by somebody who was with her towards the end that almost up to the last week she was striving to change this physical body of hers, to make it immortal, and at last she said, I can't do it, I can't do it. Now, that may seem a failure, but I think it's something very deep in human nature, you know, this desire for an immortal body

[41:49]

is very deep in human tradition. In the Buddhist tradition, you know, you have this diamond body, the vajra, the thunderbolt, and the idea that you're going to evolve a diamond body which cannot be broken, an immortal body. And you know, there's a well-known Tamil mystic called Ramalinga Swamigal, most beautiful person, probably many of you don't know him, one of the great mystics of the world, I think. He was a contemporary of Ramakrishna at 1830 to 1880. And he believed and said that he had a deathless body. He called it a golden body, and he wrote beautiful poems about this. And the story is, you can believe it or not, that at the end of his life, he retired to a small hut where he was in his ashram at Wadalur, near Pondicherry, and he told his disciples not to come for three days, to lock the door and to leave him there for three days, and after that to come. And the story is,

[42:50]

I was told even the British collector of the time was asked to inspect it and see that it was there, and they came after three days and there was nothing there. His body had been transformed. Well, that may only be a story, but if it is a story, it's still important, because it shows what the human mind and soul is aspiring to. You see, this is what we have to accept, that there can be an evolution of the body which will be transformed. Now, the interesting thing, you see, is this, that these two ideas of Sri Aurobindo, of the descent of the supermind and the penetration of matter, are both distinctively Christian doctrines. They're not particularly Hindu at all. And in the Christian view, exactly what happened with the body of Christ was that in the incarnation, a body's soul was formed which was transformed by the spirit, and the physical body was transformed in the resurrection and underwent this change, being totally spiritualized,

[43:52]

being transformed by the indwelling spirit. And secondly, that this released a power in the universe, a descent of the spirit, that Pentecost was the descent of the spirit, the supermind, a higher consciousness invaded human consciousness, and a new creation in this view came into being. And that is what St. Paul means by the new creation, the body and soul raised to a higher level of consciousness and transfigured by the spirit, and the spirit descending as an active force in humanity today and always. And in the understanding of the mystical body of Christ, which is one of the most profound doctrines of the Church, the idea is precisely that in the Church, this power of transformation, body and soul, has been released, and it's always there. Many Christians, of course, don't make use of it, but baptism, properly, is precisely initiation into this new creation.

[44:54]

It's death. You go under the water, you die, and you're reborn to a new life, to this new birth, to the spirit, to the new humanity, and you're open now to this transfiguring power of the new consciousness, the spirit, you see. That is the real meaning of it. And so, that is the destiny of man, you see. This took place in Jesus, according to the Christian tradition. It is taking place in the Church, and it is the destiny of mankind as a whole. We're all created for this new creation, for the body and the soul to be transfigured by the spirit and enter into this new creation. So that is the understanding I would take of St. Paul. Now, to try to see a little more in detail how this could come about, I have an interesting quotation from Whitehead, which I took down many years ago, and it seemed to me very relevant here. How will this transformation of matter take place?

[45:55]

Now, this is what Whitehead says, The doctrine which I am maintaining is that the whole concept of materialism applies only to very abstract entities, the product of logical discernment. The concrete enduring entities are organisms, so that the plan of the whole influences the various subordinate organisms which enter into it. It's the plan of the whole, you see, enters into all the organisms in that organism. In the case of an animal, the mental states enter into the plan of the total organism and thus modify the plan of these successive organs down to the electrons, you see. Thus an electron within a living body is different from an electron outside it by reason of the plan of the body. That is, the general plan of the body including its mental states. So what we're saying is that the consciousness is present in matter from the beginning. In man, that latent consciousness becomes actual and that consciousness can gradually,

[46:58]

does in fact, change the order of the atoms, the molecules, the electrons and all the other elements that go in. The structure of the elements in an organism is not the same as the structure in an inorganic thing, so that these things are undergoing modifications all the time. That would be the idea. Now this links up with the theory of my friend Rupert Sheldrake. He's written this book which most of you know, I think, The New Science of Life and many are feeling that it's really a breakthrough in biology because until now, physics has broken through to this new vision that biologists on the whole have remained firmly mechanistic. Mechanistic biology is the order of the day and he shows, I think convincingly, that mechanistic biology simply cannot explain the phenomena of life. It's like so many scientific theories, it's very effective, it works on a certain plane and they've made marvellous discoveries and are still doing so,

[47:59]

but it's extremely limited and it cannot go beyond a certain point and it does not answer the real problems of life and so he suggests that you can, he distinguishes between energetic causation and formative causation. You see, energy in itself is not determined in any way. There is in nature an indeterminate energy, a sheer flux of energy, you see, which has no determination. That is what Aristotle called the the proto-hyule, the first matter, which for him was pure potentiality, simply no actuality in it, just a flux of being. And that is the element of irrationality, of chance, of everything in the universe, you see. But you cannot explain the organisation of the universe, of atoms or molecules or organisms or animals, of man, by chance, by this indeterminate energy. Therefore, Sheldrake says, there must be formative causes

[49:01]

and he explains it in terms of morphogenetic fields. Just as there is a field of energies in which all these elements are being structured, so there is a morphogenetic field, a field of formal powers by which the elements are organised. Why does an atom of hydrogen contain one proton, isn't it, or one electron, and so on, in a mathematical order, you see? And why does the living cell produce this extremely complex organism? There must be some formative organisational cause. In fact, what he's rediscovered are the formal causes of Aristotle. You see, Aristotle said there are material causes from this first matter, energy, but there are also formal causes which structure the matter. And surely it's common sense. The question is, of course, how do these formal causes work? And Sheldrake has suggested this very interesting theory of morphic resonance which is being tested and people are very interested in it.

[50:02]

Maybe right. If not, then probably they'll find something else. But there's no doubt at all that there are these formative causes, the forces of organisation in matter, which organise the matter, then organise life, and then organise themselves in our consciousness. And when we come to the human being, our human consciousness is a formative cause. And we are organising our bodies. At many levels, of course, we're simply subject to the ordinary laws of matter. But we're discovering now more and more, as you know, that the mind, how much the mind can influence matter. There are innumerable examples coming out now, first of all, obviously, in yoga. You see, we know now in yoga how you can gain an extraordinary control over the metabolism of the body. Even in transcendental meditation, they've shown how it affects the actual blood count and so on.

[51:04]

But still more, of course, you find in some Hindu yogis, can so control the breath that they can stay alive, buried alive, for two or three months. I think that's been proved, hasn't it? They retain, apparently, a very small portion of air, just sufficient to sustain life. But it's tremendous control of the body. And one of the most interesting examples, it may be familiar to you, it always interests me, is in Tibetan yoga, this generation of heat. I don't know if you know, the word tapas in Sanskrit means heat. It's used for asceticism, discipline, self-control, and that's what it comes to mean. Good example of how physical and psychological are interrelated. But originally it meant heat. And the fact is, when you begin to meditate, to lose breath control and so on, you generate a heat in your body. And this can be a terrific force, and that is why it's very dangerous. And most gurus tell people to be very careful about doing any elaborate breathing exercises.

[52:07]

I remember a story of one, he became a Buddhist, a well-known writer, an Englishman who went to India in the war as a R.E.S.C. or something, some very mild job, he had signals or something, and he seemed to have most of his time going around to ashrams and visiting gurus. And he started practicing what's a very simple method of breathing, which Vivekananda suggests, breathing in, holding the breath double the time, then breathing out again. And after some days, he found a terrific force began to come down. He would wake up in the night with this tremendous force coming down on him. And he was afraid he was going mad, and so he dropped it. But then he went to his guru and he said, why is all this happening? He said, it serves you right, you should never do breathing like that without guidance from a guru. So it's no doubt you release tremendous forces as you begin to practice yoga like that. And in Tibet, the story is, and I'm sure it's been confirmed, that there is a practice,

[53:09]

you have to sit in the snow at night with a wet cloth around you and see how many wet cloths you can dry in the course of the night. And it can be done. So that is just one example of this tremendous power of conscious control, you see. We're just discovering this tremendous power of conscious control. Then there are many other examples of healing, of course, or this new power of healing is a tremendous discovery now among Christian peoples and people all over the world. We're finding this healing power is there. And then, of course, there are many examples of parapsychology, telepathy and so on. And then that applies also to miracles. You see, as long as Western science had this materialistic view, everybody thought miracles were impossible, they were just legends being made up.

[54:09]

And now, of course, the whole situation has changed and there's no objection to accepting a miracle as long as you've got positive evidence for it than for accepting any other evidence. All a miracle means is that the normal physical and psychological causes are supplemented by a spiritual cause, which, as I said, they're always working. But in this case, this consciousness has been reached to a point where the spirit now can act upon the soul and the body and exercise this transforming power. And that has happened, all the miracles of the Old Testament, the New Testament and all religious traditions. There's definite evidence for it and it's merely dogmatism to suggest that they don't occur. There's no reason on earth why they shouldn't. In fact, this is the normal development, you see. This is the evolution of man, this gradual control of the physical, psychological processes by consciousness,

[55:09]

by a higher level of consciousness. That is what we're seeking. Then that applies, of course, to the miracle of the resurrection. And I find this very interesting because most Christians accept the resurrection on faith. They're told if it happens, so they believe it. But on ordinary scientific views, it's very difficult to understand, and so they leave it. But on this view, I don't see that it's impossible at all, you see. It means that Jesus had a physical body which disintegrated, which died and was placed in the tomb. And he had a psyche, a human Jewish psyche with all the limitations and values of that. But he also had within him, like every human being, this power of the spirit. And at the resurrection, that power of the spirit totally possessed his body and his soul. And a physical, psychological transformation took place and that body's soul was transfigured by the spirit. And the appearances of the resurrection,

[56:11]

which are recorded, are psychophysical phenomena. They're not the resurrection itself, and that is important. Many people think it's just those appearances of the resurrection, but they're only the signs, the psychophysical signs. But the resurrection itself was going beyond space and time because when you get to the transcendent consciousness, you get beyond this space-time order, you see. So at the moment of the ascension, Jesus didn't go up into the sky. He simply went out of space and time. Or to put it in the other view, he was living in this explicated order of space and time and matter and movement and so on, and he entered into the implicated order. He entered into the full reality of being and matter and life and mind. It was totally realized, you see, at that stage. And that transfigured the body so that he had a spiritual body. There's a physical body, there's a subtle psychological body, but there's also a spiritual body. And you have a corresponding thing,

[57:13]

very interesting, in Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism. You know, the Buddha is said to have three bodies, the Nirmanakaya, the body of his earthly incarnation, the Sambhogakaya, the body of his bliss, or we would call it the psychic body, and the Dharmakaya, the body of reality, of being itself. And that is the final reality, you see. So that is a spiritual body. And this is not only for the Buddha and Jesus, this is for all men. We're all destined for this spiritual transformation. And there are other people, be it for the Catholic Church, the Virgin Mary, also experienced this physical transformation. And Jung, as you may know, was delighted with the doctrine of the assumption of the Virgin Mary. He said it showed this matter being transformed by mind, which is part of his whole understanding. So it happened at that time, and it is happening throughout the world.

[58:16]

We are all physical bodies which are being influenced by consciousness, becoming more and more psychologically developed. And for those who go beyond this transpersonal, we are discovering the power of the spirit to transform the body and the soul. And we're all forming spiritual bodies within us, which will be manifested when this body disappears, the gross body disappears, and the spiritual body will be manifested. Now the point is this, that this transformation in Jesus himself and in the Buddha and others who have reached that, is never isolated. There's no event in space and time which doesn't affect every other event. I didn't mention that, but I think that comes out in this new view of physics. You see that the whole universe is a field of energies which is an integrated whole. And the whole is effectively present in every part.

[59:16]

And it does seem, it's very interesting, that nature works through poles, that everything is so organized that the principle of the whole is present in every part. For instance, in the genetic code you have, the DNA apparently conditions your whole organism from that cell. The same structure goes through the whole organism. And then I have a friend who's very interested in reflexology, and she works on the feet. And the theory is, and it seems true in practice, that there are pressure points on the foot which correspond with all the organs of the body. And if you learn to exercise that pressure, you can heal organs in the body, the head and the neck and the heart and the lungs and so on, by the pressure on the foot. So the foot is a kind of diagram of the whole. And the same is iridology, the sum who, by looking at the eye,

[60:18]

can discern the health of the whole body. So these are things which are simply being discovered, you see, that nature works in that way. The whole is present in every part. That seems the structure of things. And so... Now, yes, you see, once anybody's broken through on the spiritual level, he has an effect on the whole environment. It depends on the power of his breakthrough. But when you get a Buddha, obviously it's released a power of transformation. The enlightenment of the Buddha is a permanent force in the world, and it's changed the lives of millions of people all over Asia, and it's changing the lives of people in the West today. And the same way the resurrection of Christ has released a force of resurrection, of new life, of new creation in the whole universe. It's broken through at that point, you see. Nothing happens in isolation. Everything is interconnected, interdependent.

[61:21]

And so... Now, this leads on to a further very interesting point that we have to consider, as I said, the whole universe is a whole, and the whole of humanity is a whole. St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Christian philosopher of the Middle Ages, said, omnes homines unus homo. All men are one man. That is very important. We're all one man. And this is in all the ancient traditions. I think our Jewish friends will allow that Adam is not just an individual man. Adam is the man. He is the primordial man, the man who is present in every man. He always had that vision, you see. And you get the same in Islam. There's a marvelous conception of the universal or archetypal man. It comes in Ibn al-Arabi. I don't know whether you know his work,

[62:23]

but recently this spiritual... Classics of Western Spirituality has been published by the Paulist Press in America, and they produced a beautiful edition of Ibn al-Arabi on the basils of wisdom. Basils is a very rare English word. I didn't know it myself, which means the setting of a jewel. So it's the setting of the jewels of wisdom. And it's beautifully introduced and expounded by an English writer. And to me, it's one of the most illuminating philosophers in the world. To me, more profound than Shankara. They're on the same line, but it seems to be more comprehensive. It's very wonderful. And he has the same idea of this universal man who is the consummation of the universe. And now this is in the Hindu tradition with something almost exactly the same in the form of Purusha. In the Rig Veda, it's what's called the Purusha Sukta, which is the verse on this primordial man.

[63:25]

Purusha means man or male. And the Purusha is the cosmic man or the cosmic person. And it's said of him, one quarter of him is here on earth, three quarters are above in heaven. And that means that he's both a physical body here on earth and he has a consciousness which sends up to heaven, you see. He's the cosmic man. And so we're all members of this cosmic man, this cosmic person, just like cells in a body. And here St. Paul again is extremely good. He has this idea of the mystical body of Christ as members of one body. And we can put it in modern terms, each member is like a cell, millions and millions of cells in that one body. We're all cells in the one body of humanity. And what happens to each one of us affects the whole body and what happens to the body affects each one of us. And just as sin entered into the body of humanity and has divided and disintegrated it

[64:27]

and brought war and conflict and violence and everything we experience, so redemption has been at work from the beginning, restoring the order, restoring the cosmic harmony, restoring to unity. And in that mystical body of Christ, the whole creation, as St. Paul said, of humanity is brought back to its head. It's restored to its unity. That is the concept. So... Now, the last thing I want to go on to is, what is the state of the new creation? What specifies it? And it seems to me in all the ancient traditions, what specifies this is a transcendence of space and time. For us, reality is experienced always in space and time. Everything is divided, separated, and we get even down to electrons, we still want to separate, divide, and everything is moving, changing in time.

[65:31]

And all the mystics of the world say that when you get to a deeper level of consciousness, you transcend this time-space consciousness and you become aware of the underlying unity of all things, the implicate order behind the explicate. And to give an example, the patron of my own order, St. Benedict, is recorded in his life, he was a very holy man, that one day he was meditating at night in his cell and he had a vision of the whole universe in a single ray of light. He saw the whole universe gathered together in a single ray of light. And that's an authentic experience. I'm sure you know many other examples of people right up to the present who have had this unifying experience. Suddenly, in a flash, everything becomes one. And this is beautifully described by Plotinus. I'd like to read you a passage from him, which I find very impressive. This is what he says.

[66:40]

The soul, by which he means the ordinary mental consciousness, deals with one thing after another. Now Socrates, now a horse. Always some one entity among beings. But the intellectual principle, the nous of Aristotle, which is pure consciousness, is all. And therefore, its entire content is simultaneously present in that identity. This is pure being in eternal actuality. That is such it ananda. See, pure being in pure actuality. And the whole is present simultaneously, you see. Its entire content is simultaneously present in that identity. Nowhere is there any future, for every then is a now. And nor is there any past, for nothing there has ceased to be. Everything has taken its stand forever. No past, no future, but an eternal now, you see. And this is the same in the Hindu conception,

[67:44]

the Buddhist, the Muslim, and the Christian. Now Boethius, a great Christian philosopher of the 6th century, has a beautiful definition of eternity. He says it's the total and simultaneous possession of unending life. Total and simple. This is the characteristic of the higher consciousness. Here it's all divided from one thing to another. Socrates on a horse and so on. But here we go beyond these divisions in time and space, and we experience the totality simultaneously, all together in one. It's very difficult to conceive, because as soon as we try to bring things together, then they just become amorphous. We've got no reality in it. And when we separate, then they just become divided. But we can see how. And we do experience in meditation to some extent. One can experience something of this coming together. In fact, I often think, you know,

[68:45]

in all our ordinary experience, we often do precisely that. I mean, when you're looking at a painting or listening to some music, all the time you're coordinating all those different elements. Let's say it's a symphony or something. There's a great variety of tones and sounds and so on. You know, integrating them into unity. And the more you realize the unity of it, the more profoundly you understand the whole. Well, that is the experience of this unity. Now, we have exactly the same in the Vedantic tradition in Shankara. He has a passage in the commentary on the Chandogya Upanishad. The knower of Brahman, he says, that is, the one who knows Brahman, the Supreme, enjoys all desires, all delights, procurable by desirable objects, without exception. To know Brahman is to know all reality and to enjoy the perfect bliss of total reality, satchitananda. Then he asks, does he enjoy suns and heaven and everything else alternately as we do?

[69:47]

We enjoy one thing and then another. No, he says. He enjoys all desirable things simultaneously as amassed together in a single moment through a single perception which is eternal. Everything amassed together in a single moment, in a single perception which is eternal, which is non-different from the essence of Brahman. You are knowing things in God and through God, and you know as God knows, which we have described as truth, knowledge, infinity. Satyam jnanam anantam. That is truth, knowledge, infinity. That is the final wisdom. Here we have the same idea of totality and simultaneity. And the Buddhist conception of nirvana and the void, which by itself is negative, yet at the same time is found to imply this infinite fullness. And finally, I would like to mention a wonderful saying of Ibn al-Arabi, where he says, the natural order may thus be regarded at once

[70:49]

as many forms reflected in a single mirror or as single forms reflected in many mirrors. And Plotinus, I think, has that illustration. You see, in the ultimate state, each one is a mirror, and we all mirror all the other images, and we all are mirroring the one, and the one himself is mirroring himself in all. So it's the one in the many, and it's neither one nor many. Another Sufi mystic, I got a quotation, I don't know him personally, but I found a quotation of the 12th century called Ibn Tufayl. It says, much and little unity and multiplicity, concentration and diffusion, are all of them attributes of the body. But we cannot say of these separatist essences, who know the essence of the true, when we come to our true final state, that they are many or one. If you go about to express what belongs to them by way of multitude, according to our present way of speaking, this suggests multiplicity, whereas they are far from being many.

[71:49]

If you speak of them by way of separation, or in the singular, this suggests identity, which is impossible. So it's neither many nor one. It's the one in the many, the many in the one, in the inconceivable. There's a beautiful phrase of Chaitanya, whose philosophy, the Veda Veda, he calls it, Achintya Veda Veda Tattva, an inconceivable oneness of difference and non-difference. It's the paradox, you see, when you get to the final state. So, to conclude, I think we can say that this idea of the unity in being and consciousness of man and the universe is common to all the main religious traditions and is based on the experience of the mystics in each tradition. What is novel today is that Western science, which for centuries has been confined to a materialistic conception of the universe, has now begun to discover in the light of relativity and quantum physics that time, space, and matter are not absolute, have an existence independent of the human mind.

[72:51]

Matter and mind are interrelated and interdependent, and it's therefore not difficult to conceive how an eventual transformation of matter in consciousness could take place, so that the experience of the mystics of both East and West would be verified. This, I have suggested, has its bearing on the Christian doctrine of the resurrection and the new creation. What the Christian doctrine would perhaps bring to the understanding of the final destiny of man and the universe is that in the final state, the world does not just pass away and the human individuality lost. There's a tendency in Buddhism, Hinduism, to suggest that this universe, man, individual, simply disappear and the one remains. But we would insist that in the new creation, the whole universe is realized in the fullness of being, in the total fullness of reality. And every human being realizes his full stature as a member of the body of Christ, each person being united with every other person in the communion of the spirit.

[73:52]

It's an intercommunion of persons. We mustn't dissolve it into a sort of abstract unity. It's an intercommunion of persons, one in many. And all persons together form one person in the Supreme Person, the Purusha, the Cosmic Person, the Word of God. And Saint Augustine has a beautiful expression for that. He says, at the end, there will only be Unus Christus Armanse Ipsum, one Christ loving himself. The one person loving himself in all his members, all persons. Total unity of all. And so, we could see, I would suggest, that all this energy of nature is finally fulfilled in the divine energy, the Shakti, which is the spirit manifesting throughout the universe. That is the divine spirit. And that spirit is a totally conscious, pure consciousness, and its consciousness comes from the Supreme Consciousness, the consciousness

[74:54]

of the Word of God, of the Purusha, of the Supreme Person. And that is the son. And then, the spirit and the person, both come from the Father, who is the beyond, who cannot be named, the inconceivable beyond. So, everything goes into the mystery which is beyond. So, we can conclude with the chant, which we started, just Om, Peace, Peace. That is, fullness of being is perfect peace. Om Shakti [...]

[75:58]

Shakti [...] A little time for questions if anybody has any. You spoke of the spirit penetrating the soul and matter to transform the body and the consciousness. Do you see that as being equivalent to the descent of Shakti and Shakti publicly awakening? Yes and no. I think the Kundalini and the Shakti is an aspect of the spirit, but it little depends how you ultimately see the ultimate form of Shakti. In my view, you see, I would identify the Shakti with the Supreme

[76:59]

Spirit, and in that case it would be the same. But I would still say, you know, that Kundalini is a psychic phenomenon, isn't it? You see, anything that appears like that, a phenomenon, is not pure spirit. So it's a spirit manifesting through a psychological transformation. Yes, that you can say. Nothing to add. I follow the Catholic tradition and it would seem that the mystical aspect of it has been on the decline for several hundred years. Do you see any sign that you also come to that tradition? Yes, that is the problem, you know. We had a wonderful mystical tradition up to the 17th century, and then things began to go down. It was partly the general movement, the 18th century enlightenment and so on, and the mystical tradition declined in the church. But there's a tremendous revival today, you know.

[78:00]

I say tremendous, but it's worldwide. And in our ashram it's extremely interesting, you know. We get people from all over the world now, as well as from all over India, and they're all looking for this experience of God. And so many don't find it in the church. And that's why they go to a Hindu guru or a Buddhist monastery, to get what the church is not giving them. But the church has got the mystical tradition, and if only people would awaken to it, then we could all – I mean, there's no rivalry in this, I don't think each tradition is offering this wonderful experience of God. And we've got it to offer, but not enough for offering it, I think that's the problem. That may... I was referring to the Tummo meditation that Father Beat Griffith mentioned. I don't know if this was publicized in the West, but we have been here for several weeks, and I think it was two or three weeks ago a newspaper report was released that the Dalai Lama invited about a year ago a group of American scientists who were

[79:01]

allowed to subject this to scientific scrutiny, worked with a group of Tibetans in Ladakh. This was Dr. Benson, who's a cardiologist from the United States, Mark Epstein and some other people. And they were able to find objectively that these Tibetan Lamas changed their temperature tremendously. The extreme in one of the Lama was 15 degrees within an hour, which is like unheard of in the Western medical tradition. So that was the comment, and one question, and that's there seems to be a tendency in much of mainstream Christianity to interpret religious symbols as sort of historical references and geographical references and sort of emphasize the uniqueness of the historical personages. And there's, for example, talking about getting into hell and staying there forever as if this were identical with clock time, or

[80:03]

talking about second coming as something that we are waiting for, or Armageddon, or the last judgment, or talking about the miracles as something that is a special capacity rather than something that reflects human potential that we all have. And I know that there are sources, for example, the Gnostic interpretation, some of the Alexandrian texts, which bring a totally different interpretation into Christianity. And I wonder if you could suggest some good literature on this, which would go to the mystical core of Christianity rather than to the sort of really Cartesian-Newtonian interpretation of religious symbols. Yes, I think we had a great tradition in the past, you know, right up to the end of the Middle Ages, but in the last three centuries the Church has been influenced by the whole climate of Western Europe and has interpreted the Bible and everything more and more

[81:05]

in these literal historical terms and has lost this sense of the symbolism. But the Fathers, you know, right up to the end of the Middle Ages, they had a wonderful symbolic view of the Bible. There were four senses in the Bible. The first was the literal and historical. They all acknowledged that. But the second was the moral, how this applies, we would say, the psychological, how to the human psychology. And the story of Adam and Eve was interpreted and all the others in those terms. Philo, the Jew, introduced this and the Christian Fathers took it from him. And then they had the allegorical, where this whole was related to Christ and the mystery of the Church, and finally the anagogical, it was called, relating to the final state of man. So there was a wonderful, mystical tradition of the Bible, and it went out, you see, in the 18th, 19th century, and we're only recovering it today. There's not a great deal written on it. Perhaps I might mention this book I'm hoping will come out next month, The Marriage of East and West. I've treated the whole of the Old Testament as a mythology. I call it the mythology

[82:06]

of the Old Testament, meaning not that it's not historical. You can have a historic myth. You can have a nature myth or a psychological myth, but you can have a historic myth, where a historic event becomes a symbol of universal meaning. And that is what I think most of the Biblical symbols are, these historical myths. But they're myths. They've got the wonderful, symbolic meaning. And if you just confine yourself, you see, people ask about the virgin birth or the resurrection. All they want to know is, was Mary exactly a virgin? Was it all that, you see? But that's not the important thing, really. It's a symbol of the rebirth of humanity. I think it took place physically in Mary. I see no reason why it shouldn't. But that's not the primary thing. They always emphasize this physical aspect and forget the psychological and spiritual. But let's bring them all together. We mustn't neglect the physical. I see no reason to reject a physical virgin birth or a physical resurrection, but it's a psychological event, and above all, it's a universal spiritual event. Father, I've been very moved by your presentation,

[83:08]

because I feel as though it really synthesized the theme of this whole conference, East and West, Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science. I wish you would speak a little bit on the phenomenon that's been going on the last few years, where a lot of Westerners with a Christian and Jewish background have been coming to the East to seek wisdom. For me, at a time when a lot of people are very worried about the nuclear situation, for instance, I'm very excited to see an evolution going on within many people, and I'd like to hear your conference. Yes, it's been very exciting in the Ashram, actually, in these last ten years. We've had a steady increase. Now people come almost every day. They walk in from all parts of the world without announcing themselves at all, and normally... Normally we can manage to put them up in some way. And what is fascinating is we've had people from all five continents

[84:10]

and from at least fifty different countries, and they're all seeking the same thing. And most of them come from Catholic or Protestant, some Jewish, some Hindu backgrounds, but mainly Catholic or Protestant. And I would say sixty percent tell me, I was practicing Catholic or Protestant until I was sixteen, and then I gave it all up. Because I think the way the Christian faith is presented to people, children especially, and people at school, when they begin to think and mix with people in the world at large, it no longer seems relevant, and it doesn't apply to their inner life. It doesn't apply to the inner life. And then they come to a Hindu guru and he discovers their inner life to them. But we find many people have come through Hindu gurus, Buddhist teachers and so on, and when they find it within a Christian setting, then their natural Christian roots begin to bud again, and they recover their faith. We've had marvellous examples. People who have not been to Mass or anything for years and years and years suddenly rediscover

[85:11]

the whole thing in a totally new light. And that is what is so interesting. It's a new religion all this, when you see it from within. That's the fulfilment of all these things.

[85:19]